Newtown Savings Bank Teams With United Way for Sandy Hook Fund

Local banking leaders organized the Sandy Hook School Support Fund as a reaction to numerous calls. Here's what you need to know to donate.


From blankets and books to stuffed bears, there is no shortage of offers to help the families of Sandy Hook from right next door to around the world.

But according to Newtown Public School District's Web site, the Board of Education has specifically singled out one fund — organized through Newtown Savings Bank and the United Way of Western Connecticut — in lieu of other gifts. The Sandy Hook School Support Fund has been set up to provide direct monetary assistance to families of victims and the community.

Newtown Savings Bank CEO John Trentacosta told Patch that the fund came together as a response to countless requests.

"We had no experience of dealing with anything of this magnitude," he said, so the bank reached out to the United Way. "They agreed to help us be custodians of the fund."

Newtown Savings Bank and the United Way are planning to form an independent advisory board that will make decisions on how to get the money out, Trentacosta said, but bank and foundation officials won't make the final call. More likely, he said, everyone from town religious leaders and PTA members to Board of Education members and first responders will have a say over how the funds are used. 

The United Way has come to aid in similar situations in the past, including in Littleton, Colorado. "There's a tremendous amount of need," Trentacosta said. "... A lot of individuals can't go back to work after that."

The bank can't disclose how much has been raised so far, but support has been widespread and the United Way has been utilizing the press and social media to spread the word.

"You have to understand — this was done as a reaction. People wanted to know how to give," Trentacosta said. "We're not actually doing an active solicitation ... What we're trying to do is be responsive and helpful to our communities and the citizens who were impacted by [this tragedy]."

To contribute to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, visit the United Way's donation page.

Lois Imbriano Barber December 19, 2012 at 04:09 AM
I can only tell you of my BAD experiences with the one in Danbury. They gave me a grant application to fill out that was as thick as the Manhattan white pages. When I went to pick up the application the head of United way and her administrative assistant told me I would NOT be getting any money. I said "But I haven't submitted the grant application, and you haven't heard me speak yet. Aren't all non-profits in the city of Danbury allowed to apply?" PS - I didn't get a dime for my non-profit, but all the non-profits that they themselves had a finger in got all the grant money from the city of Danbury. Support a different fund. The very fact that a member of the press called twice with these questions and they did not return a phone call tells you something. Pass the word.
Roberta Hofmann December 19, 2012 at 08:28 AM
When my husband was President of the local United Way, the board would get together and decide which application was going to get the money on three bases: 1.) Did they get a lot of money from other places? If so, they didn't get it from United Way. 2.) Were there a lot of volunteers working for the organization? If so, that was a plus. 3.) Did they really help people? The more the better. So Catholic charities got money because they meet all those criteria, for instance. But when money was requested to build a homeless shelter in our small town, it was refused because they could only come up with 6 homeless who could be taken care of in other ways.
Annamarie December 19, 2012 at 01:53 PM
I feel they should set up their own fund in their town bank. Forget about the united way getting involved! No one should take any of the funds except the families who's children and loved ones were killed!! Too many times you hear that those funds never go to the families!
Lois Imbriano Barber December 19, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I do not know when your husband was head of it, but that has all changed. they do NOT meet in someone home - they have a very large 2 or 3 building complex in Danbury, right next to Dawn's Pizzazz. My museum has hundreds of volunteers, we do not get grant money from other places, and the Danbury schools wanted us to come into their high school and middle schools. The tennis program was only going to service 20 kids, but they were stationed right in the United Way complex. The Tennis now has it's own space on Main St, Danbury. How would you explain the head of it telling me I would not get any money before seeing my application or me going before their board to speak?
Gary M. December 19, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Can we gain some perspective here? I know some will think this very callous and I am not trying to be, but has anyone looked at the average income of the folks in Newtown? As an example, the shooter's home is valued at over 1.5 million. The average income in Newtown, CT is way above the national average. Do these people really need monetary support? Or can they best be served and "honored" by help and support in another way. If it can be shown that some of the parents, spouses and family members who lost a loved one are indeed in financial crisis or otherwise could really use monetary help, then by all means. I wonder, if asked, would the people of Newtown want financial help? There are times when throwing money at something, tho it might make us feel better, is not a help to those in need of perhaps something else. I don't have any answers, but I do believe there might be a better way to show our concern while trying to meet the real needs of these heart broken families.
Roberta Hofmann December 19, 2012 at 05:45 PM
You're correct. They likely don't need the money which might be better used by aiding other elementary age children in memory of those who died.
Gary M. December 19, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Yes, an act of kindness, posthumously, in honor of those who died at Sandy Hook Elementary
Steve D December 19, 2012 at 06:29 PM
My thoughts exactly, Gary. Although, I did read that after a tragedy like this where an immediate family member is lost a lot of people aren't able to immediately return to work and therefore would suffer the loss of income. Not to mention other expenses related to the aftermath. I'm sure there's someone effected by that horrible tragedy who isn't financially stable and could truly use the help. Always a tough decision when it comes to donating to a cause and figuring out how and where your dollars can best be used.
Randee Roucoulet December 19, 2012 at 07:22 PM
On the donation page on the Newtown Savings bank page "There will be no United Way management fees attached to any donations for the Sandy Hook School Support Fund." PHEW!
Gary M. December 19, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Yes, that thought did cross my mind as well, but what employer would penalize these folks for needing time off? Sometimes, money isn't the answer. This community sounds incredibly strong. I think, in time, they wil be just fine and I look forward to seeing how this town honors the memories of those adults and little ones lost.
wendy lee hewitt December 26, 2012 at 10:06 PM
United Way is very reluctant to respond with much more than smoky, nebulous answers. One has to only go to their official website to see how they dance around such questions and expertly use semantics to avoid direct questions. ~ I respectfully have to disagree with a portion of Ms. Roberta Hoffman's post above. While I do not doubt that local UW Volunteers met at her home, their own UW Official website clearly states that at a minimum, "1% of all funds" go to corporate administration. ~ We are well within our rights to question their methods. I have YET to see, (after much searching), an actual Press Release or article DIRECTLY FROM United Way that states their position on fees as they relate to Newtown. ~ All we have to go on are 3rd party snippets WITHIN the local bank's news articles... nothing from UW themselves. According to their own website, "local UW Chapters" can make their own rules and operate as they see fit. - I think that it is time for the LOCAL UW to submit in writing exactly how monies are being dispersed. Anything less is unfair to the millions of people who are so generously donating to Newtown…. Not to the very highly paid CEO, Mr. Gallagher.
wendy lee hewitt December 26, 2012 at 10:08 PM
The following is copied directly from UW’s official website: “Mr. Gallagher leads the largest non-profit organization in the U.S., his cash compensation ranks sixth out of the large national charities comprising the Leadership 18. United Way Worldwide is the leadership and support organization for the nearly 1,800 local United Ways in 40 countries around the globe. Our work is supported by the 1% membership fee paid by local United Ways. Local donors are supporting work in their communities through local United Ways, which have their own CEOs and Boards of Directors. Information about your local United Way CEO’s compensation can be obtained from your local United Way”.
wendy lee hewitt December 26, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Folks, please also visit the Newtown Alumni Fund. Members are the proud past and present students of Newtown Schools. Totally legitimate and closely monitored. http://www.newtownalumnifund.org > They are going like gangbusters, (of course!) and all funds they raise, (100%) are going straight to Newtown.
Eric Bornfriend December 26, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Take a look at www.wearenewtown.com They are a small charity that has popped up, and has been in touch with several people in Newtown CT. This donations page is donating 100% of every last penny to the community of Newtown and Sandy Hook. They have a marketing company who is paying all of their administrative costs, and putting up prize money for a raffle everyone gets entered into who donates. In this day it is hard to find a charity that is willing to pay for administrative fees etc. out of their own pocket, not donation money. Please take a look at them and spread the word. Contact them if you have any questions. Again, the website name is: http://www.wearenewtown.com
Eric Bornfriend December 26, 2012 at 10:28 PM
www.wearenewtown.com is one of the few charity sites popping up, that is not a scam (backed by a nationally recognized LLC) and they are donating 100% of all proceeds to Newtown CT. All administrative fees, etc. are being paid out of pocket by the company and nothing is being withheld. This is a good charity by some good people who are orginally from the area and trying to give back. They are also offering donation incentives which I have yet to see other page do. Take a look at them. http://www.wearenewtown.com WE ARE NEWTOWN
wendy lee hewitt December 26, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Also interesting: Announced today: United Way has asked that clergy be on a 'panel' that will be the final arbiters of determining where donated money will go.
Sam Mihailoff December 26, 2012 at 11:50 PM
some of the folks impacted are not in the above average income bracket, nor live in the mega Mc Mansion...one, I personally know works in construction and basically has no income during the winter months...Boo Hoo, you say??? His son was shot multiple times...He could use hard cash right now!!!
Lois Imbriano Barber December 27, 2012 at 12:49 AM
I moved to Newtown because it was a middlle-class neighborhood, with a mix of professionals and blue-collar workers. There are a lot of families in Newtown that depend upon social Services to help them get by. Even those who didn't need help 5 years ago, now need it because of the recession. Trust me, the vast majority of homes here are NOT valued at a million and a half. that was just what the media said.. Even before this happened, I seriously doubt if the shooter's home could fetch that much. More likely around1/2 that price.
Lois Imbriano Barber December 27, 2012 at 12:50 AM
I am not free to tell of the private issues of one of the adults killed, but her family really needs help.
Lois Imbriano Barber December 27, 2012 at 01:00 AM
1st and foremost - any funeral expense, including burial plot, should be paid for by the United Way Fund. Next, the siblings and children of the victims should have scholarship money to pay for all of their secondary education. After that, the money should be divided up and all go to the families, and they should feel free to do with it anything that will help them heal, even if it means a down payment on a home in another state or a dream family vacation when they feel up to it. All the various groups that are collecting money should get together and pool their funds and energies. There are at least 2 separate groups that want to erect a memorial and/or a garden. Another group is donating all the money collected to the Sandy Hook PTA. The money is being spread out. Have any of our politicians on a level higher than the town, asked for grants to build a new school, or to reinforce doors and have better security in general in our schools?
Gary M. December 27, 2012 at 01:16 AM
I have the same concerns that I did when the Red Cross was "chosen" as the central agency to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The Red Cross has one of the highest administrative costs ratios of any of the well known organizations. A fairly high percentage of the dollars given go towards admin. costs. What are the United Way's admin. costs? Also sadly a few bogus "charities" have sprung up and glad to take your money!
Lois Imbriano Barber December 27, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Has anyone heard which ones are bogus?
Lois Imbriano Barber December 27, 2012 at 12:34 PM
We Are Newtown sounds real, however, if you look at their website, the money will be going for couseling and a memorial. I want to help pay funeral expenses and directly to the families of those killed. Any suggestions on where to give?
Eric Bornfriend December 27, 2012 at 03:37 PM
www.Wearenewtown.com has changed their policy, and is accepting nominations or suggestions for families that need monitary help for funeral costs and lost wages. Please contact WE ARE NEW TOWN at www.wearenewtown.com if you have any info on what families could use their expenses covered.
Gary M. December 27, 2012 at 05:05 PM
For those interested in making donations, have confidence in the www.wearenewtown.com website. I have reservations about the general United Way donation center for reasons fully covered in these blogs.
Lois Imbriano Barber December 28, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Eric, I do believe you about the sincerity about We are Newtown. I just looked at their website, and it only mentions a scholarship. It doesn't say if the scholarship will go to one of the families, or to any Newtown student with good grades. http://wearenewtown.org/pages/about-us
Eric Bornfriend December 28, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Hi Lois, I am aware of that charity. However the one that I was referring to is actually www.wearenewtown.com, not "dot org" the wearenewtown.org is only scholarship. www.wearenewtown.com is set up to go directly to families who need monetary assistance or directly to the town. The donations are just starting to get rolling, as it is a fairly new charity, but it should really help make a difference where it is really needed. Let the people of Newtown decide how to best use the funds.
Lois Imbriano Barber December 28, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Just went on We are Newtown.COM and they sound great!
Eric Bornfriend December 28, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Hmm. That's strange. Maybe try the full link with the http in there. Lets try this. http://www.wearenewtown.com if that does not work I would suggest typing it out manually. We are newtown .com (obviously you would remove the spacing)
Gary M. December 28, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Yes if u kno of a particular family in need u can designate your donation to them directly! Now that's so much more helpful!


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